Ladies, are you ever worried that your man might have eyes for someone else?
Do you suspect he’s cheating on you with his secretary, despite showering you with love and affection?
If that’s so, then Wife vs Secretary might be the perfect movie to empathize with.
Starring a wicked cast of Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Clark “The King of Hollywood“ Gable, Wife vs Secretary‘s title is pretty self-explanatory.
Loy and Gable play Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope, a couple who are very much in love. In fact, as the movie begins, we see the two about to celebrate their third wedding anniversary with breakfast.
However, Linda Stanhope (played by Myrna Loy) notices that her publisher husband Van (played by Clark Gable) forgot to give her a gift to celebrate their anniversary. Rather perturbed by the whole ordeal, Linda proceeds to give Van the cold shoulder as they sit down to eat together.
After of few moments of bickering, Linda believes her day is ruined. The problem is only resolved when she takes a knife and fork to her plate, revealing that Van had actually hidden her gift (a bracelet) in the belly of the fish she was about to devour. Surprised, all of the fighting they did a few seconds ago flies out the window.
Ohh, Van, you’re always three steps ahead!
What a great husband!
The only person who is actively looking for kinks in this marriage is Van’s mother, Mimi Stanhope (played by May Robson.)
You see, Mimi thinks that her son’s secretary, Helen ‘Whitey’ Wilson (played by Jean Harlow) is
too attractive to be working for her son up to no good. She believes that Ms. Wilson is a serious threat to her son’s marriage, despite Helen having absolutely no interest in him. Mimi even tells Linda about the potential incoming danger, but thankfully, she pays no mind to the baseless rumor about her husband.
Unfortunately, the rumors only intensify when Linda’s friends happen to have the same opinion as her mother- in- law.
Faced with a barrage of accusations, Linda stands by her man.
You go, girl!
Even though we’ve seen multiple people confirm that there’s no truth to the rumor – including ‘Whitey’ and Van – there’s always that one person to take it personally; this time, that person is Helen’s fiancé, Joe (played by James Stewart.) Joe doesn’t like how his bride-to-be is spending so much time with a man who isn’t him. This time disparity makes him feel very insecure about his relationship with her.
Hoping to, possibly, tie her down for good, Joe proposes marriage. Helen declines, citing her devotion to work with Van on a ‘secret’ plan to buy a rival newspaper. Van fears that the news of the ‘takeover’ might leak to the press, so, he hides it from everybody- except his lovely secretary, ‘Whitey.’
*RED FLAG ALERT*
The secrecy surrounding the project only deepens the divide between Linda and Van. It isn’t until an office get-together celebrating her husband’s business: Stanhope Publishing, that Linda goes off the deep end. At an ice skating party nonetheless, Linda witnesses Helen getting a little too cozy with her husband.
For Linda, this is the last straw.
She asks Van to transfer ‘Whitey’ to another office, which leads to an argument between the two. Fortunately, the Stanhopes make up later that same night.
Fast-forward a few days, and Van books a trip to Havana with the hope that Linda forgives him for not firing ‘Whitey.’ Everything seems to be looking up for the Stanhopes, right?
Quickly after Van books the flight to Cuba, he finds out that the man who runs the magazine that he’s trying to buy is, coincidentally, also in Havana. Trying to stay ahead of game, Van uninvites his wife and switches ticket name to Helen. For some reason, Linda doesn’t seem to mind, at this point of the film, she accepts the fact that her husband is having an affair. The two travel to Havana and manage to close the deal.
While Linda is back at home, heartbroken, ‘Whitey’ and Van drunkenly celebrate closing the deal in Havana. Obviously, with alcohol comes wandering hands. Van and Helen, for a moment, become strongly attracted to each other.
Checking in on her husband, as a loving wife would do, Linda calls Van’s hotel room from New York. The phone rings and ‘Whitey’ promptly picks up the phone.
Linda hears her voice, hangs up the phone, and assumes the worst. A few days later, Van returns to New York and attempts to explain what happened. Linda doesn’t want to hear it and begins filing for divorce. Lonely and devasted, Van decides to go sailing to Bermuda and invites ‘Whitey’ to help ease his loneliness. By this point, Helen has fallen in love with Van, so of course, she isn’t going to say no.
After spending a few moments together, Helen realizes that Van will never love her as much as he loves his wife. Hoping to get the couple back together, Helen visits Linda on a cruise about to set sail for Europe, a few days before she and Van take off for Bermuda.
Figuring out that this is her last chance to convince Linda to go back to Van, Helen pleads to her claiming that, she would be a “fool” to let a man like Van go. After thinking it over, Linda, finally, goes back to Van. Luckily, they both forgive each other. ‘Whitey’ goes back to Joe and Linda and Van make up, for good.
I really wish more people would watch this movie. It really is a sweet film, and the trio of Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow work very well. There were many moments in the picture where I genuinely felt terrible for Myrna Loy‘s character. Particularly the scene where she calls her husband and it’s ‘Whitey’ that picks up the phone. I can feel her disappointment and anguish through the screen, it was palpable.
As for Jean Harlow, this was one of the many roles of Jean‘s that I really enjoyed. Her character of Helen played the perfect ‘foil’ to Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope’s relationship. It made it very bittersweet when Van did get back with his wife at the end because she seemed like such a nice girl, but, hey what can you do?
Finally, we can’t talk about this movie without discussing Clark Gable. Clark is everyone’s dream husband in this. He loves Linda with such devotion, it’s hard not to root for the guy. Even though I was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t run away with Helen at the end of the film, I still very much enjoyed the chemistry between himself and Myrna Loy.
All in all, Wife vs Secretary is a fantastic movie, and it most certainly does this blogathon justice. If you haven’t seen it, please do! It really is an incredible movie and you definitely won’t regret it, I certainly didn’t.